By Lisa Flueckiger, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Laranjeiras is more than just home to several government buildings, such as the Palácio Guanabara, seat of Rio’s state government. It is a upper middle-class, calm residential neighborhood in Zona Sul (South Zone), with historic buildings next to some of the most modern architecture in the city.
Laranjeiras, located north of Botafogo, in the backyard of Flamengo and Catete, is a residential neighborhood with a lot of green. It may be best known to most tourists as they pass through on their way to Cristo.
Yet Laranjeiras is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Rio, as people settled around the Carioca river that came from Corcovado mountain in the 17th century. The area was therefore called Vale do Carioca (Carioca Valley), but later renamed to Laranjeiras due to the many orange trees in the lower part of the valley.
“Laranjeiras has always been a good neighborhood. It is a very animated neighborhood with many shops and where people like to go out,” Francisco das Chagas, a Laranjeiras resident explained.
“It is a neighborhood with great mobility. You don’t need a car here,” Vínicius Guimarães, another Laranjeiras resident, explained. “It is a neighborhood with a lot of history. In the 19th century it was very secluded due to the hills separating it from other parts,” he added.
Although Laranjeiras is a primarily residential neighborhood today, there are several government buildings in the area. One of those is Palácio Guanabara, the seat of the government of Rio state, which has recently been in the spotlight during the protests against the government.
The palace was constructed in 1835 and served as Princess Isabel’s residence, accessed through Rua Paissandu, which is lined with decorative palm trees until today. Other historic buildings include Palácio Laranjeiras, the official residence of Rio’s state governor, which is surrounded by Parque Guinle and currently under construction, and the Instituto Nacional de Educação dos Surdos (National Institute for Education of the Deaf).
The historic charm of Laranjeiras also attracted creative residents such as Heitor Villa-Lobos, Cecília Meirelles, Cândido Portinari and Oscar Niemeyer.
The neighborhood is also home to Fluminense, one of Rio’s four football (soccer) clubs. Fluminense is one of the oldest soccer teams in Brazil and its Laranjeiras stadium was the Brazilian national team’s first ground.
The stadium was designed by Catalan architect Hypolito Pujol and is used as Flu’s training ground today, as home matches are played in the much larger Maracanã. Within the stadium’s complex there is also a swimming pool and gymnastics hall, as the club hosts various other sports teams and also offers sports classes.
Recently, mingled in between the historic buildings, one can find some of the most modern residential buildings in Rio. The mostly white and glass apartment houses fit perfectly into the neighborhood, as they convey the same splendor as their historic counterparts. “There has been a lot of investments into the neighborhood. There are many new modern buildings now,” Mr. das Chagas tells The Rio Times.
Purchase prices in Laranjeiras were R$9,981 per square meter in July, a plus of 12.2 percent in the last twelve months. Rents peaked with a square meter price of R$ 41, as it seems Laranjeiras had some catching up to do in comparison to neighboring Flamengo and Catete, where rents have fallen or stagnated in the last two months.
Generally, rent prices were volatile in Laranjeiras in the last twelve months, as they fluctuated between R$36 and R$39. However, overall they still increased by 17.8 percent. In the neighborhood one can find apartments of all sizes, and a rented three-bedroom apartment has on average around 80m2 to 100m2 and costs around R$3,000-3,500.